Getting the hashtags right for Instagram is a key factor in getting exposure on the platform. Obviously, using just the right tags alone doesn't guarantee success. But using the relevant hashtags with the most engagement and most relevant to your posts can help you get the exposure you need.
It's really hard to grow Instagram without using hashtags. It's possible, but unless you're a celebrity, or have all day to work on each post you make for Instagram you're going to need to use hashtags effectively.
I recently learned about this service that curates the best hashtags per topic and so far it seems to work really great. Let me show you.
This post, a single image. Using the hashtag suggestions did really well compared to previous posts. The thing to notice is how many impressions came from hashtags.
Impressions are just a small part of the battle to get noticed on Instagram. The next part is to get engagements. On Instagram, the best engagements are shares, bookmarks, comments, likes, and follows, more or less in that order.
Using the right hashtags helps you mostly with impressions, once you have impressions then you can fine-tune your captions, your photo composition, work on your theme and get better at marketing yourself in general.
The seafood photo also shows the impact the hashtags had on the reach. About one-half of the impressions came from hashtags.
Now, there are some people out there that consider hashtags "thirsty" but are any of those people paying your bills? Are they paying you for sponsored posts? Are they getting you new business? Are you paying THEM to give you advice?
No? So ignore them.
The Trick to Finding Good Hashtags?
Well, you can spend weeks and months looking at analytics and measuring how effective (or not) the hashtags you use are. In the end, this will be futile since you don't have a lot of data to use or compare besides your own account. It will be really hard to determine which Instagram hashtags perform the best.
Or you can use one of those apps in the app store that tell you the "popular Instagram hashtags." They even have Instagram hashtag generators, but I haven't found those to work really well.
What I used to help me with these posts is Juiced Social. Juiced Social makes amazing lists of curated hashtags that provide niche hashtag recipes.
So far I have bought a couple of hashtag lists, they're only $5.00 each. I purchased the Business Motivation one, and for the food posts, I'm using a combination of two lists, Asian Food Hashtags, and Foodie Hashtags. But they have tons of them for all kinds of topics. I'll probably pick up a couple more soon as I implement a new Instagram theme for 2020.
Some of the most popular categories are Beauty, Business Marketing, Cars, and other vehicles, Quotes and Inspiration, and of course Travel. They even have monthly free lists you can use to complement your posts.
I took the screenshots for these two posts about a week after I posted them. So the reach happened fast, maybe in the first 3 days. This is true for most posts, with or without hashtags.
But there is also something that hashtags do for your post. They keep it relevant. People search and browse hashtags, so if you pick the right hashtags, you'll continue to get traffic over a long period of time.
Sidenote on deleting hashtags.
There is some controversial advice floating around out there that suggests you should delete your hashtags after a week or a month of posting. The reasoning behind this goes in line with what I said earlier about hashtags being thirsty.
It's supposed to give viewers the impression that you received all that activity without hashtags. But I don't think this is true or good practice.
Here is what two Instagram experts have to say on the matter of deleting hashtags when I asked them.
Leave hashtags alone unless they've been banned or blocked. "...for niche tags, you can stay close to the top for weeks, months or longer." - Ciaran Blumenfeld
"Keep them on. They drive so much traffic. - Tanya Kara
One more post example.
This one was the most successful of the short test I've been doing with Juiced Social.
This one worked really well. The impressions are about the best I've gotten in a long while and the number of likes I got for those hashtags is pretty good too. Just shy of 100 likes, with a reach of over 1500 accounts 80% of which were not my followers. Now I just have to work on getting them to comment, like and follow.
Next time you find your Instagram hashtags not working, or just want to boost your posts a little bit without spending money on Instagram ads, give this a try. It could make all the difference.